Revising Leah

October 2, 2008

Coming Into Focus (Progress Report #9)

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 9:35 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Photo by Bogdan Yakovenkoa

I’ll be finishing my fifth read-through of the novel today. I’m very happy with the overall progress. Most of the chapters are nearing a stage of completion where I feel happy about the story and my writing. As I read through the novel this time, however, I found three chapters which have not seen satisfactory progress: chapters six, fourteen, and the first half of seventeen still sound awkward and stilted in places. After five cycles of revision, those three chapters still feel like they have a long way to go before I’m happy with them. So what I plan to do before I move on to the sixth cycle is isolate these three chapters and spend a few days on them.

What I’ll do is print them out and work on hard copies of the chapters. Printing out one’s writing and working with a pen and paper is always a good revising strategy. It allows me to really tear into my writing, mark it up, make annotations, and highlight the trouble spots. I might have done this before now except that printing out an entire novel four or five times can be a bit of a pain. It’s much easier to print out only three chapters.

Ultimately, what I might have to do, if the language is stilted and wooden beyond repair in these chapters, is rewrite long passages from scratch — just retell the story in different language. I think the idea of the story is good, but I’m just not telling it very well in these three chapters.

I plan to spend at least two days on each chapter, so this task will take me at least a week to accomplish. Hopefully, when I’m finished, I’ll be able to say that the entire novel is very near completion.



  1. Very cool! I hadn’t thought about trying to do the bulk of the revising/editing work on screen and then just printing out the trouble bits. I mean, I’m not at that point yet anyways but I always print and read through in hard copy before going back and rewriting etc, helps me really see what’s there though I am picking up more and more on screen, I guess just through practice.
    Hope it all goes well with these three chapters, sounds like you’re doing really great :-)

    Comment by J.C — October 2, 2008 @ 1:48 pm

  2. Thanks. There’s some psychological or physiological reason why reading text from a hard copy is more effective than reading text off of a computer screen (at least as far as editing is concerned). Ideally, I would do all of my revising and editing offline, but I’d rather not print out a 200+ page document every month!

    Comment by jmreep — October 2, 2008 @ 2:35 pm

  3. I confess I just do a better job if I print it. I can and have edited parts on the computer, but you are absolutely correct about there being reasons to proof/edit in hard copy. For me, I think a lot of it is eye strain, even with the monitor as dim as I can get it. The rest of it is simply missing things on the screen that I see easily on the page.

    It sounds as if you are doing well. You’ll be on to the sixth cycle in no time! Gratz!

    B J Keltz

    Comment by B J Keltz — October 2, 2008 @ 5:29 pm

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